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Any bathroom can benefit from the added safety of grab bars. They are very effective in helping prevent of slips and falls in the bath. Typically, they are the first item most people turn to when looking to improve general stability both around tubs and showers, and near the toilet.
Use this checklist when you go to the store and purchase your items.
Mount grab bars into a stud that sits behind the wall. Alternatively, use an anchoring device when a stud cannot be located. Be sure there is adequate room within the hollow area behind the wall so an anchoring device can function adequately. Grab Bars can be placed vertically, horizontally or diagonally depending upon a variety of factors.
At the entry to the shower or tub.
In the shower or tub.
Near the toilet.
Plan to install grab bars where you enter the bathtub and the shower. You may also want at least one grab bar within a tub enclosure to help you stand and sit. Mark mounting locations on the wall with strips of 1-1/2 in. painter’s tape at the height you need and roughly as long as the grab bar you want. (Grab bars typically measure 16 in. to 48 in. long.) For most persons, bars at the drain end of the tub and along the tub length should be mounted 33 in. to 36 in. above the floor. For anyone who has trouble standing up or lowering themselves into the tub, add a second grab bar along the tub length at 9 in. to 11 in. above the tub rim, as shown in the diagram.
Using a stud finder, locate the positions of wall studs and mark them on the painter’s tape strips
Using the grab bar mounting flange as your guide, mark the pilot hole locations oriented over your stud marks. For mounting on drywall, you’ll need to drill pilot holes using a bit that’s slightly smaller than the shaft of the mounting screw (the core that the threads wrap around). Check the directions for a manufacturer’s recommendation. Drill pilot holes through the drywall and check to make certain you drilled into a stud on the other side.
If you're drilling through ceramic tiles, you need glass / tile drill bits. For driving screws into a stud, use a 1/4 in. bit to drill only through the tile and part of the drywall but not into the stud. For installing the Snaptoggle anchors used here, drill a 1/2 in. hole through both the tile and drywall.
Drive the mounting screws that came with your grab bar or 2-1/2 in. panhead screws. Pay attention to the resistance you feel as you drive the screws. If you feel the resistance slack off before you’re finished, that could be a sign the screw tip broke through the side of the stud, reducing its strength
Slide the grab bar covers over the mounting flanges and apply moderate pressure to the bar to confirm its strength.
The secret to a wall anchor strong enough to mount a grab bar is its ability to distribute a load along the back surface of the drywall. A heavy-duty toggle-bolt anchor will spread force applied to the grab bar along four toggles pressed against the back of the drywall (or plaster wall).
The grab bar directions call for three screws per flange, which works fine for mounting on studs. But drilling that many 1/2-in. holes in plain drywall can weaken the wall enough for the mounting area to break off. Instead, use two heavy-duty anchors placed in the upper half of the flange with the metal channels positioned vertically. You can use three anchors per flange in tile over drywall and in plaster walls—particularly plaster over lath—because both are stronger than plain drywall.
Mark the flange hole openings on painter’s tape and find the center of each hole as you would for driving screws into a stud. Tape also helps keep the bit from wandering and tile from cracking as you start the hole. For the Snaptoggle anchors used here, we drilled 1/2-in. holes and carefully removed any loose pieces of drywall paper.
Hold the metal channel against the anchor’s plastic straps, slide it through the hole, and make certain the metal channel is vertical. Hold the ends of the plastic straps and pull them toward you until the channel seats against the back side of the wall. Slide the plastic cap along the mounting with your other hand until the cap is flush against the wall.
Using the screws supplied with the anchor, fasten the mounting flanges to the wall on both ends. Apply equal pressure to the screws holding each flange to prevent the bar from rocking and damaging the drywall. Tighten the screws until they’re finger-tight against the mounting flange, then add a half-turn.
Slide the covers over the flanges and test the strength of the bar.
*Time and Cost are estimated.